Did you know that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 230,000 people over the age of 15 experience bathroom-related injuries per year? And that the rate of injury increases with age?
If you're caring for an elderly relative or friend, it's important to assess how safe their bathroom is. There are numerous ways that seniors can injure themselves in the bathroom, with the most common bathroom-related injury being slips and falls. Falling is one of the most common causes of fatal and nonfatal injuries among Canadians and can lead to costly fractures, head injuries, and hospitalizations that can result in loss of independence and sometimes death.
Some ways that seniors can slip and fall in the bathroom include:
- Wet, slippery floors
- Broken tiles
- Getting in and/or out of the shower/bathtub
- Standing up or sitting down on a toilet
- Bending for hard-to-reach areas
- Poor lighting
- Tripping over bathmats, towels, or other objects
However, there are seven important ways you can help make your loved one's bathroom safer so they can take care of their personal hygiene, maintain their independence and ability to age in place, and give you peace of mind.
Seven Solutions for Bathroom Safety for Seniors in Canada
Age-related mobility issues can make simple tasks like walking and reaching for objects more challenging for seniors, so it's important to make sure everything they need is easily accessible. Making sure that commonly used items are within easy reach is essential for areas like bathrooms where the risk of slipping or falling is heightened.
You should also make sure that anything your loved one needs for the bathtub of shower can be accessed with minimal trouble. Make sure that soap, shampoo, conditioner, towels, and any other bathing items are within easy reach.
Many falls in the bathroom are caused by slippery surfaces, such as tile or linoleum on bathroom floors, as well as fiberglass or ceramic surfaces in bathtubs and showers. To prevent slippery surfaces, consider installing non-slip surfaces on your loved one’s bathroom floor, as well as in the tub or shower.
Install non-slip decals or mats on slippery surfaces — especially those that can become even more slippery when wet. But you should also keep an eye on these decals to ensure they don’t loosen and create a tripping hazard.
Grab bars can play a huge role in maintaining a safe bathroom for older adults. Grab bars perform two essential functions: First, they give your loved one something to hold onto and help them keep steady when moving in and out of the tub or getting on and off the toilet. Second, grab bars can provide a secure place for your loved one to grab should they possibly fall.
However, you should make sure to install grab bars that are securely screwed into wall studs instead of the suction cup versions. Suction cup grab bars can potentially pop off of the wall when applying too much pressure.
For many seniors, frequent urination is a common issue, especially at night. However, many seniors also have vision-related issues, which means it's essential to ensure their bathroom, as well as any hallways or paths leading to the bathroom, are well lit. By installing night lights that illuminate the walkway from the bedroom to the bathroom, you can reduce the chance of a fall or injury.
Remove Obstacles and Clutter
Removing items that are easily tripped over can greatly improve bathroom safety. One of the biggest risks for the elderly is tripping over the side of their bathtub. Installing a walk-in shower or walk-in bathtub can help make bath time safer for your elderly loved one.
You should also remove scatter rugs, which are easy for seniors to slip on or trip over. Only use bathmats with a non-slip backing, and securely hang them up when not in use. Avoid keeping items such as trash cans, scales, and toilet brushes in high-traffic areas where they could cause a fall.
Prevent Hot Water Burns
Adults over the age of 65 have thinner, more delicate skin and can take longer to notice hot temperatures, making them more susceptible to hot water-related burns.
Make sure your loved one's bathroom taps are labeled properly and keep hot water temperatures to a maximum of 49 C.
Decrease the Risk of Over-Exertion
Besides falls, over-exertion is the second-leading cause of bathroom-related injuries. Age-related issues can make it easier for your loved one to over-exert themselves.
Consider installing a secure bath chair and a raised seat for your loved one’s toilet. These can help your loved one avoid over-exerting themselves when bathing, showering, or using the toilet.
How Senior Home Care by Angels Can Help Seniors Stay Safe in the Bathroom
At Senior Home Care by Angels, we understand that not every family can keep a close eye on their senior loved ones. That's why we offer a variety of home care solutions to help seniors throughout Canada remain safe, especially when using the bathroom. Our caregivers can help with bathing, grooming, and getting dressed, as well as help seniors safely get to the toilet and provide fall prevention solutions. You can trust your loved one will be in capable and caring hands when you choose us to be your partner in senior care.
Contact your local Senior Home Care by Angels office to learn more about our home care services.